Okay, so maybe it?s not what you were thinking, but a see-through mesh top for your Jeep is still really cool.
As Jeep owners, we suffer through the winter months. As soon as the first hint of a warm day comes, we rush outside to free our Jeeps from the suffocating enclosure of a hard or soft top. Finally we have open air and views from every angle. Then seconds later we block our new found freedom with a thick black vinyl bikini top.
Sure we all love being able to cruise around in a topless Jeep enjoying the fresh air and blue skies. But do that too much, and you?ll be smearing Aloe Vera on your blistering, lobster-red skin. Not to mention the damage the UV causes to the interior of your Jeep.
So the vinyl bikini top blocks our views, but it saves our skin. Yup, it seems that yet again life is about compromises. Well, we say compromise is for politicians. We want protection from the sun, AND we want to keep our open air views that make up the whole Jeep-driving experience. To get the best of both worlds, what you need is a SpiderWeb Shade.
The SpiderWeb Shades SW1 top is a rubberized black mesh, see-through safari top that still manages to block 90% of harmful UV rays. This means you get 90% of the sun protection of a vinyl bikini top, but 100% more view. We?re installing the TJ top, but don?t worry JK guys; they make tops for the 2 and 4 door (more on that in a later article).
The attachment of the SW1, and all SpiderWeb Shade tops, is unlike anything else we have seen. Rather than using a windshield channel and nylon straps, it uses ?Spider Balls? (a bungee loop with a plastic ball). The top fits in between the driver and passenger side sport bars and continues back over the rear seat providing full protection for everyone in the Jeep. SpiderWeb touts how quick the top is to install and remove (which it is), but even better than that is once it?s on your Jeep it never needs to come off. Your factory or aftermarket top fits right over the SpiderWeb Shade top.
NOTE: Be sure to check for adequate clearance between your hard top and speaker bar.
The front center of the top attaches to the footman loop on the windshield frame. The front corners wrap around the sport bars and around the hinge of the visor for an extra tight fit.
The rear corners wrap around the roll bar under the shoulder belt attachment. Initially we didn?t have the top stretched back that far, but Chris at SpiderWeb assured us that we would be even happier with the fit if we put the extra tension in the top? He was right.
This unique attachment system has a couple of advantages. The "bungee balls" maintain constant tension on the top - never needing adjustment.
Additionally, you'll keep a few extra bucks in your wallet because you don?t have to buy a windshield channel or header to use the top. It?s complete and ready to install right out of the box... Unlike that really cool Christmas present that Santa forgot the batteries for... But we're not bitter.
Sitting under the SpiderWeb Shade top for the first time is an... odd experience. You can look up and see the sun, but you don?t feel the heat. One tester described it as a ?warm shade?, like sitting under a tree rather than a covered pavilion. Once you get used to the feel, though, you?ll wonder how you ever went so long without it.
Start driving, and the experience gets even stranger. A typical bikini or safari top flaps around and makes quite a bit of noise at high speeds. But because air can easily flow through the SpiderWeb Shade top, it barely moves and is almost completely silent.
So they say the top will block 90% of the UV rays from the sun. Well we decided to test this in our own, highly unscientific way. We shot temperatures of three different black metal washers (spray painted black to exaggerate the temperature differences). One control in the direct sun, one under a black vinyl top, and one under the SpiderWeb Shade top. After letting the washers cook in the mid day sun for about 20 minutes until the temperature stabilized, we shot the temps with an infrared thermometer. The results: Control in direct sunlinght ~ 122°, under a Vinyl bikini top ~ 75°, under the SpiderWeb Shade ~ 87°. Yes we know this doesn?t really tell anything about how much UV the top blocks, but it does show the top is doing its job and gives a pretty good demonstration of how it feels sitting under the SpiderWeb Shade.
The SW1 is SpiderWeb Shade's best seller, and for good reason. It?s actually pretty versatile. You can run it in normal safari-top style either above or below the roll bar. Either configuration covers both the front and rear seats. Running the top over the roll bar is a better fit, but going under the roll bar solved a clearance issue we were having with the hard top.
Now for a bit of creativity ? the ?WhatWind? configuration. Instead of extending the back half of the top to cover the rear seats, and you're short like the president of this magazine, you can drop it down behind the front seats and secure it to the main hoop of the roll bar to create a wind break. Now you have a bikini top and wind blocker all in one. Keep in mind this particular setup works best with the doors on.
Remember that part at the beginning about life being full of compromises? Well I guess you can't win them all, and this is true for the SpiderWeb Shades top is no different. In the sun, it truly is the best of both worlds, but in the rain? well? The best advice we can offer you is this: If you get caught in the rain, and only have a SpiderWeb Shade top for your Jeep, start driving as fast as you can. Okay, so that?s probably not the best or safest advice, but it?s the only way you?re going to stay somewhat dry. At freeway speeds, the rain skips off the mesh top and nothing more than a fine, refreshing mist makes it through into the Jeep. Driving slowly, on the other hand, you just may be better off without any top at all. Seriously.
At slow speeds, or sitting parked in the rain, the top doesn?t block the water. But it doesn?t let all of it through either. You?re still getting rained on inside the Jeep, but it?s much worse than that. As the weather clears up and everyone else is dry, you?re STILL getting rained on inside the jeep. The rain water sort of coagulates in the fibers of the mesh - and waits. Then every little bump in the road releases giant super-golf-ball-sized-drops of water from their mesh holding tank in a microburst of interior rain. And please, whatever you do, don?t look up at the top and say ?hmm I wonder what will happen if I hit this saturated mesh material with my hand while sitting directly underneath it.? We think you already know the answer, just as we did, but we still had to try it anyway to be sure? And we know you're still going to try it anyway.
Fortunately, SpiderWeb Shades made this rain problem easy to solve. As we mentioned earlier, other tops fit easily over the SpiderWeb Shade. We simply keep our factory soft top (or vinyl bikini if you don?t have a soft top) folded down in the back of the Jeep. When storms start brewing overhead, we quickly pop the top into place and have rain protection.
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The lack of rain protection may or may not be a big issue depending on where you live. For us here in the desert, it?s not a big deal; and most of the time the top is perfect. Still, because this can be a problem for others, we do not recommend you have this as the only top for your Jeep.
We absolutely love this top! Changing back and forth between safari and "WhatWind" style is quick and easy. Finally we can have all the protection from the sun we need and still have the feel of a truly open-top Jeep.